Dark and, at times, amusing fiction from award-winning author Dave Zeltserman

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Outsourced in Berlin

I'd like to thank Paul Hochman for sending the photo.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A bunch of stuff

I was touring last week for Outsourced and had a lot of fun at Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale and Bookem Mysteries in South Pasadena. At Poisoned Pen , I finally got to meet Patrick Millikin who I've been trading emails with for years, and has been a fan/supporter from the very beginning with Fast Lane. We had a packed house there, with Garnett Elliott, Terry Tanner and Mike MacLean showing up, all very talented writers who I had the pleasure of publishing during my alternative life with Hardluck Stories. An up and coming hardboiled writer, Keith Rawson, who has been impressing me lately with some of his online short fiction, also showed up, and made this video interview after the event.

In between Scottsdale and LA I stayed in Sedona to do some research for an upcoming chapter for my Blood Crimes series, and if you've never been to Sedona, go there. The place is amazing.

It rained Saturday in LA, which doesn't happen often in Southern California, and screws up traffic there as badly as a snowstorm does here in Boston, and having a good part of downtown LA tied up by the NBA All-Star game didn't help any. But still a bunch of people braved the weather and traffic to come out to meet me and shmooze, and it was a pleasure meeting fellow Top Suspense Group author Naomi Hirahara and Bookem Bookstore owner, Barry Martin.

While I was gone the trends continued for Outsourced, The Caretaker of Lorne Field and Julius Katz.

Bruce Grossman sums up his review of Outsourced over at Bookgasm:

OUTSOURCED is a great respite from the dark material we are used to from the author, but that’s not to say this is some walk in the park. I’m hopeful he has some more heist books in him, since this one is ingenious. I recommend it to any crime reader; you won’t regret taking the ride

Newcity Lit likewise digs Outsourced. You can read their review here, but here's an excerpt:

As the foursome hash out their plan, another subplot ensues: two Boston cops are on the trail of Victor Petrenko, a Russian mafia leader who has established himself as a cruel “Don” who spreads fear around town while blackmailing prominent figures in order to avoid any serious prosecution. As the story unfolds, twists and turns bring the characters together for a surprising and eye-opening ending.

And online now is my Page 69 Test.

The Readers Advisory for Horror has given The Caretaker of Lorne Field a spectacular review. Here are a couple of quotes from the review:

Finally, if you liked the movie Black Swan, you will love CoLF. Both require the reader/viewer to make a choice as to what parts of the story are "real" or not. Both will also make you squirm throughout their duration...and you will love it!

Steven King would love this book, if he hasn't read it himself already.

Even Julius Katz Mysteries got some attention (and a lot of e-book sales) with the following review.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

On Dangerous Ground

A different lifetime ago in a parallel universe, I used to run a crime fiction web-zine called Hardluck Stories. One of my hopes when I ran Hardluck was to be able to turn some of the issues into print anthologies, and we had three issue in particular that I thought would make the core for outstanding noir anthologies: Western noir, bank job, and horror noir. Quite a few years ago during this alternative life, Ed Gorman and I were able to get Cemetery Dance to agree to publish our Western noir anthology, and then it just kind of disappeared, which I thought was a shame. We had put 21 stories, all of which were strong ones, some of which I thought were amazing, including Hell by Bentley Little, Piano Man by Bill Crider, Durston by Norman Partridge, Lucky by Harry Shannon, Burl Lockhart's in Town by Steve Hockensmith, The Cartoonist by Jon L. Breen, and The Old Ways by Ed Gorman. We even coaxed Ken Bruen to provide us a nifty Western titled 'Colt'. Last year this anthology resurfaced, and after reading the ARC I was struck by how damn good this anthology is. Being as completely unbiased as I can be given my involvement, this is the best noir anthology I've seen. Well, according to B&N's web-site, the anthology will be out in May, and Publisher's Weekly and Library Journal both seem to be backing up my opinion that this is a hell of a good anthology. I have both their reviews below and if you're looking for what I think is a great noir anthology, and very different from anything else you've seen, I strongly suggest you check this one out.

Publisher's Weekly:
A wild posse of outlaws populates this dark, moody collection of 21 character-driven tales derived from the psychological westerns popular in the 1950s. Though set primarily in the old American Southwest, these dusty noirs flare with life, death, animosity, danger, duplicity, and realistic characterization. Highlights include Terry Tanner's electric "All Good Men," in which a jailbird takes revenge on the men who testified against him; Jon L. Breen's affecting "The Cartoonist"; Gary Lovisi's "Lead Poisoning," which sees an Indian and a bank robber team up to settle the score with a sheriff; and James Reasoner's "The Conversion of Carne Muerto," which explores the turbulent genesis of a Comanche war chief. Some dastardly womenfolk kick up trouble in Ken Bruen's "Colt," while Dave Zeltserman and Harry Shannon conjure some ruthless heroines of their own in "Emma Sue" and "Lucky." From Santa Fe and San Francisco to the Oregon Trail, the action and adventure consistently thrill and mystify in this unique anthology of the rugged west.

Library Journal (starred review):
Masters of the macabre Gorman (Dead and Alive), Dave Zeltersman (The Caretaker of Lorne Field), and Martin H. Greenberg (The Dean Koontz Companion; Women of the Night) present this anthology of 21 Western-themed stories designed to leave readers screaming for more. Twists of fate and wisps of pure evil subtly wind throughout these chilling tales contributed by a variety of crime fiction and Western authors (Ken Bruen, Harry Shannon, Jeremiah Healy, Bill Crider, James Reasoner, and Robert Randisi). Unexpectedly, they spring forth as the reader (immersed in the virtues of right causes championed by rugged Western heroes) becomes aware of the fetid nature immersing them all. This is classic noir fiction at its very best.
Verdict This skillfully crafted anthology will have great appeal to fans of noir fiction, pulp fiction, and Westerns. The escapism provided through journeying into the bleak shadow-side of human nature allows readers to be guided into a more hopeful reality.—Melody Ballard, Pima Cty. P.L. Tucson, AZ

Friday, February 11, 2011

Trend continues as Boston Globe raves about Outsourced

...Zeltserman drives the plot forward with a craftiness that results in an ending as sharp as “The Caretaker’’ or any of his other books.

You can outsource software engineering, but so far at least you can’t outsource crime writing as good as Zeltserman’s.

You can read the Boston Globe review here.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Another tasty bite from Blood Crimes

As further proof that Blood Crimes: Book One is not your daughter's vampire book, unless your daughter is Carrie, or maybe Meadow Soprano, here's another tasty bite, this one showing how the two love birds, Jim and Carol, first met.

She was only nineteen when they met. Three years later she looked so much older than she should’ve. World weary. That was the thought that came to mind. There was a tragic quality to her beauty now; her face more gaunt than it should be, thin strands of white occasionally showing up in her dark black hair. She’d pull them out when she’d see them—not out of vanity, but simply trying to keep him from noticing; afraid that if he knew how much he was aging her he might leave her. He couldn’t leave her, though. As much as he needed human blood to survive, he needed her presence even more. She was more addictive than any drug. He needed his daily fix of her—he needed to feel her small warm body against his at night, the side of her face resting against his shoulder and her thin legs draped over his body. The virus had left him with a highly acute sense of hearing and he needed to hear the soft pattering of her heart. He didn’t think he could stay sane without it. For her sake, he would risk it except he knew that she held the same addiction to him; that it would be just as soul crushing for her if they separated. For better or worse, they were each other’s soul mates, and as much as he wanted a better life for her he couldn’t inflict that kind of pain on her by leaving, not unless he thought she could survive and be okay some day. Somehow he knew she wouldn’t. That turned out to be the most damning curse of his infection.

His thoughts drifted to when they met. It was right after all that bizarre shit with Serena. He had somehow gotten out of New York in one piece and was trolling the mean streets of Newark half-crazed from hunger when he heard Carol screaming for help. She was two blocks away and had been dragged beneath an underpass bridge by a leather and chain jacketed, tattoo-encrusted street thug. The thug was more than twice Carol’s size and held a dirty rag against her face which mostly muffled her screams. Still, she fought like hell while he tried to bend her over and rip off her panties, her skirt already having been thrown to the ground. In a few heartbeats Jim was there, pulling the thug away from Carol, and at the same time yelling at her to get away from them. She collected her torn skirt but she didn’t run away, and Jim understood why she stayed there and watched. Even in the crazed, wild state he was in, he felt the connection with her when their eyes met. He had the same immediate longing for her as she did for him.

But he needed to feed.

The thug looked confused that someone as thin as Jim could lift him with one hand so effortlessly off the ground, especially since he outweighed Jim by a good sixty pounds. Up close the thug was ugly as sin; pockmarked, bald—and for a short moment before he had edged his switchblade out of his pants pocket—as scared-looking as any little kid had ever been.

Once the blade was open and the moonlight reflected off of it that changed and the thug transformed back to the brutish animal he was. Jim was grateful for that. It made it easier for him to do what he had to. He didn’t give him a chance to use the knife; instead he crushed every bone in the thug’s hand and sent the blade falling harmlessly to the ground—not that the thug would’ve been able to do much with it anyway. After that the skull was next.

While the thug lay as a lump of dead meat on the ground, Jim ripped open his throat and drank until the buzzing in his mind died down. He was ashamed doing this in front of this beautiful dark-haired girl but he couldn’t help it. He desperately needed to feed. So while she stood and watched, he submerged himself in gore. When he was done feeding he remained squatting over the dead body, frozen, wanting to run away but unable to move. He felt Carol standing behind him, could feel a moist heat coming off her body. They were like that for minutes until she touched him on the shoulder. When he turned and looked into her eyes he knew he was lost—he knew they both were…


Blood Crimes: Book One is available now for $2.99 for Kindle, Nook and from Smashwords.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A taste of Blood Crimes

What do you get when you drop vampires into a noir universe? How about a wild ride filled with doomed lovers, stone cold sociopaths, heroin-snorting hedonistic vampires, a world-weary hardboiled PI, a secret lab conducting experiments that would sicken Josef Mengele, blood-splattering ultra violence and drug dealing biker gangs. How about we just call it ‘Blood Crimes: Book One’.

The vampires in Blood Crimes aren’t supernatural creatures, but instead damaged and severely flawed individuals suffering from a virus that emulates vampire-like powers. At the center of Blood Crimes are doomed lovers, Jim and Carol. Jim’s infected with the vampire virus, Carol isn’t. Jim needs to kill to eat, and he and Carol travel the country finding the most dangerous predatory scum for Jim to feed on. In order to assuage his guilt over killing his victims, Jim further needs to catch these predators in the act of harming Carol so he can rescue her before killing and feeding on them. Carol has her own serious emotional and psychological baggage and she needs this every bit as much as Jim does. Hot on their trail is PI Donald Hayes. Hayes is smart, capable, honest; someone that Lew Archer would’ve probably enjoyed having a few beers with. Hayes has been hired to track Jim down and is beginning to suspect that Jim is a serial killer leaving dead dangerous bad guys in his wake. Hayes’s client is Serena—a beautiful and deadly femme fatale vampire who leads a clan of hedonistic vampires in Manhattan, and is not at all happy that Jim escaped from her compound (hell hath no fury like a woman scorned?? try Serena!). In the shadows of all this is Metcalf, my most sociopathic creation to date. In some ways Metcalf could almost be a twin of Victor Petrenko from Outsourced--there's a lot of DNA shared between the two of them, but ultimately he’s scarier and more cold-blooded. This cast of characters end up colliding with a vicious drug biker gang in Cleveland for my most violent and highest octane book climax.

As you can probably guess by now, Blood Crimes is not your daughter's vampire novel. Unless your daughter is Mallory from Natural Born Killers.

This excerpt shows Jim’s indoctrination after being infected with the vampire virus:

The fever broke. Consciousness seeped in and he became aware of where he was and what was happening to him. God, he hurt. Especially his throat. Fuck, he was hungry.

A familiar woman’s voice, soft and amused, commented, “The butterfly has broken free from its cocoon.”

Blinking, he craned his neck. Serena sat naked on a chaise lounge pleasuring herself. He realized he was naked also, and even in his pain, felt himself growing hard.

She got off the chaise lounge. She noticed his erection and smiled thinly at him.

“The dead has risen from the ashes, I see,” she said in that same sing-song melodic voice he had heard in the club.

He tried to tell her how much his throat hurt, but he couldn’t get anything out other than a rasping sound. She shushed him.

“I know, my pet. You’re so thirsty and your throat hurts so much. Let me take care of everything.”

There was a baby’s bottle sitting on a table nearby filled with a thick congealing red fluid. She brought it to him and placed the nipple in his open mouth. He wanted to be repulsed at the thought of what she was offering, but he drank from that bottle as if his life depended on it. When he was done, he felt better, his throat less raw.

“That was blood,” he croaked out in a low whisper.

“Yes, my pet. How very observant of you.”

“What type?”

“What type do you think?”

At some level he wanted to gag, but at a deeper more fundamental level, all he wanted was to drink more blood. His wrists and ankles were still manacled. As he lay helpless, she crawled on him so that her pubic area pressed against his mouth, then started to fellate him.

He tried not to breathe in that sickly-sweet scent of hers.

He tried hard not to taste her.

Fuck, he wanted to throw her off him.

More than anything, though, he didn’t want her to stop.

He closed his eyes and tried to imagine that it was a different woman than Serena on him. He tried to think of his old high school girlfriend, and that he was someplace else entirely. It didn’t work. All he could think about was Serena and that night in the SoHo nightclub. About her biting him and the intense sickness that came afterwards. He knew he had changed. He could feel the difference in his body. He had seen on waking that he had become leaner and more narrow. He could feel that his head had changed shape. In his mind’s eye he could picture what he now looked like. At some level he knew what he had turned into. The word vampire kept bumping through his brain. He didn’t want to think about it. He tried not to think about it… He tried not to want Serena as much as he did…

Christ, he was hungry. Without even realizing it he had bit the inside of her thigh. It took a lot of effort to break the skin, and he just kept biting down harder, and it made her squirm and suck harder on him. Finally he broke the skin. He licked up the drops of blood that formed from her wound. A violent intense spasm wracked his body. For a long moment he couldn’t breathe. His body became so tense he couldn’t move. Then he started gagging.

Serena had rolled off him.

“If it was only that easy,” she said, sighing. “We can’t feed off of infected blood, my pet.”

She waited until he stopped gagging. Then caressing his cheek, asked, “Are you feeling better now?”

Jim nodded, his face contorted into a tight grimace.

“Good. You can bite me all you want. I like it. But if I bleed, don’t lick my blood.
It’s not good for you.”

It didn’t take much effort on her part to bring back his erection. And then she was back to what she’d been doing, although with more excitement. Right before he was about to climax, he could feel the violence of her being ripped away from him. He opened his eyes and saw that Metcalf had a grip of her long black hair and was pulling her off the table.

“You son of a bitch!” she swore at him as she tried to pull free. Metcalf let her fall to the floor.

“Me?” Metcalf asked, grinning, although his eyes were as dull as sand. “For Chrissakes, Serena, can’t you even show an ounce of self control? You know full well we have an indoctrination protocol.”

“Asshole,” she spat.

She rubbed her head gingerly before grabbing a robe lying nearby and covering herself.

Metcalf’s eyelids lowered as he turned to her. She noticed it and moved over to the chaise lounge. Avoiding his stare, she told him to get on with his indoctrination.

“Thank you.”

She didn’t bother to respond, instead curled her fingers on her right hand and studied her nails. Metcalf turned his attention to Jim. He sat down on the edge of the table Jim had been manacled to, and pulled a stiletto knife from his belt. He let Jim get a long look at it.

“This is an incredibly sharp knife,” Metcalf said, admiring it. “You’d be amazed at how sharp this really is and what it could cut.”

Even though he knew what the answer was going to be, Jim couldn’t help himself from asking Metcalf what he was going to do with the knife.

“Only a demonstration,” Metcalf said. He looked bored as he ran his thumb along the edge of the blade. “If my skin were like any normal person’s my thumb would’ve been sliced open to the bone. But it’s not. And you’ve probably noticed you’ve changed also, am I correct?”

Without waiting for a response, Metcalf spun around and plunged the blade into Jim’s chest, and kept pushing downwards until the knife was buried. Jim stared dumbly at it. A low creaking noise escaped from him, then his body jerked into spasms. His back arched as if ten thousand volts were being shot through him.

“Right through the heart,” Metcalf said. “Hurts like hell doesn’t it? If you were normal you’d be dead now. But you’re not. And if you want the pain to stop, you’ll figure it out.”

Jim strained frantically against his chains. One of them snapped, and with his hand free, he pulled the knife out of his body.

“You fucking asshole,” he forced through clenched teeth.

Metcalf got a laugh out of that. “Only proving a point, guy,” he said. “My demo takes a hell of a lot less time than trying to convince you about the changes.”

Serena rolled her eyes. “My dear, Metcalf, I think you do this little demonstration of yours because you’re a sadist. No other reason.”

Any amusement Metcalf had been showing dried up quickly. He glanced impatiently at Jim and ordered him to break himself free of his other chains.

“You’ve got ten seconds to get off that table before I repeat my demonstration.”

Jim snapped the chain restraining his other wrist, then broke the chains attached to his ankles. He pushed himself off the table by the time Metcalf had counted to nine, and stood wobbly for a moment before regaining his balance.

“Why aren’t I dead?” he asked. The searing pain that had been slicing through his chest was now more of a dull ache. He found himself able to talk more normally again. “You stabbed me through the heart. What the fuck have I turned into?”

“What do you think?”

Half under his breath, Jim muttered the V word.

That brought a grim smile from Metcalf. “For your information, that’s a dirty word around here, but no, not in the classic supernatural sense. Thanks to Serena, though, you have been infected with a virus that mimics some of those legends.” He glared at Serena, his mouth shrinking to a small slit. Serena appeared not to notice. She had picked up a file and was nonchalantly sharpening her blood-red painted nails. Metcalf’s eyes dulled as he turned back to Jim. “That’s it for questions. Put some clothes on and follow me so we can finish your indoctrination. I don’t have all fucking day.”

The knife wound had already scabbed over. Only a scar the size of a quarter had been left behind. A pair of khaki draw-string pants and a matching color tee shirt were folded next to the table. Jim slipped them both on. They were several sizes smaller than his normal size, and they hung loosely on him. Metcalf waited impatiently. Serena looked up from her nails to eye the way he looked in the clothes, and licked her lips.

“Where the fuck am I?” Jim asked.

“The place you’re going to spend the rest of your life. Just shut up and follow me.”

The windows in the room had been painted black, as they were in the hallway Metcalf led Jim through. From the layout, the art deco decorations and the antique elevator that they stepped into, Jim’s thought was that this was a converted turn-of-the-century hotel. He had to guess they were still in Manhattan. With the windows darkened and only artificial light filtering through the hallway and rooms, he had no sense of time. It could be midnight or noon for all he knew. He couldn’t shake this image in his head that they were in a large coffin.

Metcalf had them get out at the basement level, and before too long they were stepping into hell. Emaciated men and women sat in cages, each looking withdrawn and defeated. The scene could’ve been snapshots from a Nazi concentration camp. Jim felt a sickening horror as he looked from face to face. None of the captives were able to meet his eyes. Metcalf casually explained that these were the cattle pens.

“What the fuck do you mean by that?”

Metcalf raised an eyebrow at his tone. “I’m giving you this one warning,” he said.

“In a few minutes I’ll be making it clear to you what will happen if you raise your voice to me again.” He waved a hand toward the cages. “And before you act all high and mighty, didn’t you think about where the blood came from that Serena fed you earlier?”

Jim shook his head.


“No. There’s no way I could’ve imagined something like this.”

“What did you expect then? That we turn on our faucets and blood pours out instead of tap water? Sorry, guy, it doesn’t work that way. But I’ll tell you what. If you’re so offended by this, you don’t have to drink the blood we milk for you. You can starve if you want—”

“I don’t get it. Why human blood?”

Metcalf smiled cruelly. “You want to try eating something else, you name it, sport. Steak, pizza, chocolate, anything you want, and I’ll get it for you. We’ll see how well you do with it. But all that’s besides the point. This isn’t why I brought you down here.”

Metcalf continued to the opposite end of the room where he unlocked a door and beckoned Jim to join him, a grim smile showing as Jim approached.

“This is my private lab. If you’re smart this will be the only time you get a chance to see it.”

Metcalf turned on the overhead lights. The inside of the lab was a chamber of horrors. What at first looked like grotesque armless mannequins cut off at the waist turned out to be living beings. Some were chained to the walls, others had spikes driven through their shoulder pinning them to tables. A few were sliced open as if they were in the midst of being dissected, but even these were still alive. They all seemed to be in agony.

“I use this lab to study the limits of our infection,” Metcalf said, his lips pursed with amusement as he observed Jim’s reaction to the room and its inhabitants. “It serves other purposes as you can probably guess. There’s one thing in particular here that I’d like to show you.”

He brought Jim to an empty area at a lab table between two of the dissection experiments. Jim caught the eye of one of the partially dissected vampires. It mewled softly to him before looking away.

“Any idea what this is for?” Metcalf asked.

Jim couldn’t keep himself from nodding.

“Yeah? Let’s hear it.”

Jim started to answer him, closed his mouth.

“Superstitious, huh?” Metcalf asked. “You’re afraid to say it? Okay, I’ll say it for you. This spot’s reserved for the next resident here who pisses me off.”

“It looked to me like Serena was doing a good job of that.”

A glaze fell over Metcalf’s eyes. “She has her privileges, but you sure as fuck don’t. If I were you I’d watch my mouth. Understand?”

Something about the way Metcalf was staring at him told Jim he was seconds away from being made one of his experiments. As shaky as he was feeling he knew he’d have no chance against this vampire. Maybe if he was feeling stronger and had a knife, he’d have a shot, but not now.

“Yeah,” Jim said, his eyes shifting downwards and away from Metcalf.

“So what did you learn here?”

“Don’t piss you off.”


Blood Crimes: Book One is available now for $2.99 for Kindle, Nook and from Smashwords.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Roger Smith's Foreword for Pulp Master's German Edition of Pariah

South African writer Roger Smith is the author of three of my favorite recent crime thrillers: Mixed Blood, Wake Up Dead and Dust Devils (yes, I was one of the lucky few who got to read Dust Devils in manuscript form, and it's spectacular!), as well as also quickly becoming one of Germany's favorite crime thriller writers. I was very happy when Roger generously agreed to write the foreword for the German edition of Pariah that Pulp Master will be publishing later this year.

Foreword to Pariah By Roger Smith

Before I read Pariah I had pretty much written off contemporary noir fiction. This is no exaggeration. The new dark stuff left me feeling the way I feel when I step into an elevator and hear an orchestral version of a rock classic: I want the original.

Most modern noir is either a period-piece pastiche – cardboard cut-out tough guys and their double-crossing babes travelling down mean streets cloned from the mid-twentieth century greats – or it’s a comic book frenzy of bodies and blood, death-porn for the Playstation generation.

So, a couple of years ago, when I first heard about Dave Zeltserman, heard him tagged as a contemporary James M. Cain via Jim Thompson, I was dubious. I’d been duped and disappointed by those kind of blurbs before. But when I read Pariah – and then went on to read everything else by this prolific author – I knew, for once, that the accolades were deserved. He was the real thing.

What impressed me most was that Dave Zeltserman was doing what those greats had done before him: he was holding up a dark mirror to American society. And Pariah is dark. Very dark.

Kyle Nevin is as vicious a bad guy as you will find in contemporary fiction, except in Pariah he's the hero. He bares his demonic soul in a chillingly casual – and often deadpan hilarious – first-person narrative that is reminiscent of Jim Thompson’s unreliable narrators. It is testimony to Dave Zeltserman's skill as a writer that not only do you get drawn in deep, but you can't stop yourself from rooting for this monster, even as the body count grows.

And just when you think you have a handle on this pitch black narrative, Zeltserman takes a hard left into the world of letters, when Nevin signs a contract with a New York publisher to pen an account of his most savage crime, barely disguised as a work of fiction. A scathingly satirical swipe at a society where no bad deed goes unrewarded by a book deal. (Pariah was written before the publication of O. J. Simpson’s “hypothetical” description of the murders of his ex-wife and her friend in “If I Did It”, making Zeltserman’s book all the more prescient.)

Pariah is everything that contemporary noir writing should be: tough, sparse, cynical, deeply pessimistic but shot through with dark humor. Brave writing that presents a world view in stark contrast to the Oprah-ready redemption tales that bog down the bestseller lists.

So, who is this guy, Zeltserman? This one-man sweatshop who bangs out a seemingly endless stream of hard-edged crime fiction? I’ve come to know Dave a little over the last two years or so. We’ve never met – he lives in Boston and I live in Cape Town – but we keep in touch via e-mail and stumble across one another in the Web’s dark, crime-ridden alleyways. What I have learned about him is that he is the most generous of men when it comes to supporting new writers whose work he admires – I’m lucky to be one of them – and utterly uncompromising and brutally honest when assessing the shortcomings of latterday crime fiction.

Dave Zeltserman has an encyclopaedic knowledge of noir fiction and is fascinated by its DNA. He reveres the pulp magazines and paperback-originals of the last century (like Gold Medal Books) that showcased and nurtured some of the huge names of crime writing: Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Charles Williams and Richard Prather. They encouraged a terse, pared-down style and honed their writers’ ability to gaze unblinkingly at all that is dark and depraved in the world. In an interview I did with him last year, Dave said – somewhat wistfully – that he would have been a Gold Medal writer if he hadn’t been born fifty years too late.

I’m going out on a limb here – and taking my life into my hands! – but I suspect Dave’s formidable self-discipline also has a lot to do with the years he has spent studying martial arts like Kung Fu, in which he has a black belt. Not only can he kick butt in a bar fight, he can roll up his sleeves and bash out a noir gem in a matter of weeks, like those pulp-masters of old. No rewrites for Dave Zeltserman: the first draft is the last draft.

So, rest easy in the knowledge that although Pariah comes out of a tradition dating back to the last century, it’s a startling modern book that lays bare very contemporary social ills. Relax and enjoy the dark and twisted journey that this book will take you on, you’re in the hands of a master.

Roger Smith is the author of Mixed Blood (Kap der Finsternis), Wake Up Dead (Blutiges Erwachen) and the forthcoming Dust Devils (Staubige Hölle).

Monday, February 7, 2011

"And not a lavender fop in sight! "

Jim and Carol are classic noir lovers on the run, like those in They Drive By Night, Theives Like Us,Badlands and Natural Born Killers. They’re trying to escape from Serena – a rich,vampire femme fatale – and Metcalf – an ex CIA hit man who performs experiments on vampires in an underground laboratory. Throw a world weary Private Eye and a biker gang into the mix and you have a really well written, blood splattered and very cinematic page turner that fans of From Dusk Till Dawn and Near Dark will love. And not a lavender fop in sight!

I'd like to thank Paul Brazill for reviewing Blood Crimes at his blog. And Paul is very right. Blood Crimes is not your teenage daughter vampire angst novel. Far from it.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The trend confirmed

A consistent trend developed last year with The Caretaker of Lorne Field, and now the same trend has been confirmed with Outsourced with over 20 reviewers seriously digging the book, and every email I've been getting from readers enthusiastically sharing these same sentiments. The latest reviewer to dig Outsourced is DIG Boston, although the book's title and its unfortunate overlap with the NBC sitcom kept the reviewer from picking up the book for a while (note. I wrote Outsourced in 2004 long before that sitcom was even a gleam in any NBC executive's eye). So if you want to read a bank heist book that just about everyone is calling "a nifty piece neo-noir", "a small gem of crime fiction" or "a fast, lightening-paced read" Outsourced is your book!!

Can you imagine getting drunk with Jim Thompson, O Henry and Roald Dahl? Can you imagine the rush, the laughs and the chills?

21 Tales has picked up yet another sterling review, this one from Paul Brazill over at Pulp Metal Magazine. Thanks Paul!

The nature of the beast is that since I'm putting out Blood Crimes myself as an e-book original, it's going to get far less reviews than my other books, but the emails I'm getting from readers have all been the same--they're blown away by Blood Crimes. So if you want to check out my most noir and wildest thrill ride of a book and one of the most unusual takes on the vampire genre you'll ever find, you can buy Blood Crimes for $2.99 from either Amazon, B&N or Smashwords.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Trend Continues with Outsourced!

The trend for readers and reviewers seriously digging Outsourced is continuing this week, with earlier this week the Nerd of Noir expressing his thoughts on Outsourced over at Spinetingler Magazine.

Naomi Johnson over at the Drowning Machine writes:

In only a couple of years, Dave Zeltserman has become one of my favorite "must read" authors. Outsourced, although written four years ago and just now being published in the US, proves not only that the man has talent, but consistently delivers a slam-bang story full of real-world complications. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

You can read Naomi's entire review here.

Author Paul Tremblay (whose The Little Sleep, No Sleep Till Wonderland, In the Mean Time are all must reads) writes at his blog:

Dave Zeltserman’s newest (yes, the prolific bastard puts out like three a year) is OUTSOURCED. It’s a crime/heist novel about Dan, a laid off software engineer. At 48 years old, his re-hire prospects are grim, and he’s slowly losing his sight (retinitis pigmentosa) to boot. Creeping ever closer to defaulting on his mortgage, and desperate to provide for his family, he schemes to rob a bank, or more specifically, to rob the safety deposit boxes that belong to a reputed Russian mobster. Dan gets a bunch of his has-been friends in on the clumsy yet clever caper, and stuff goes way wrong, quickly.

OUTSOURCED is brilliantly paced and reminiscent of A SIMPLE PLAN with the supposed non-criminals slowly descending into desperation and violence, and Zeltserman gives the characters (Dan, in particularly) a kind of heartbreaking vulnerability as well. Another great crime novel from Zeltserman.

If we’re all still around and reading books 20-30 years from now, I can totally envision the next generation of crime/noir readers–the ones discovering and raving about Chandler and Hammet–finding all of Zelterman’s books too, and greedily inhaling them.

The CompulsiveReader also reviews Outsourced, summing up the review:

Outsourced is a 24/7 novel, what some would call an all-nighter. It is one of those novels that you rush to finish, such is the pace at which the story is told. Rest assured, a compelling and compulsive read. You won’t want to subcontract this beauty out at all.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Steve Katsos Show and Brookline Booksmith

Here I am on the Steve Katsos show doing my John Turturro impersonation. Steve was great, the whole crew was great. Here's a terrific Boston band, the Willows, who also appeared on the same show:

And also Jenny Zigrino, a very talented and funny young comedienne:

The weather last night forced us to reschedule our book event at Brookline Booksmith, so Jon Merz and I will be there this Friday at 7pm. I'll be there for Outsourced, Jon with be there for his latest, The Kensei. I hope folks show up.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Outsourced and Julius Katz Mysteries

Outsourced is a f*cking blockbuster of a novel, the type of book that you cancel plans for, even if said plans were to drop ecstasy in a snowbound cabin with a dead ringer for Christina Hendricks. Okay, that last bit might be pushing it, but you’d at least pack Outsourced with you so you’d have something to do between rounds of furious rumpy-and/or-pumpy. The Nerd has certainly not been shy with affection for Dave Zeltserman’s work in the past, but this is the book that, if we live in a just world, should give him the audience of a Don Winslow or a Dennis Lehane.

The Nerd of Noir in his own inimitable way shows his love for Outsourced over at Spinetingler Magazine. You can read the Nerd's brilliantly potty-mouthed review here, where he laces his review with more profanity than I think I have in the whole book! Delicate-minded readers have been warned. But I love the Nerd's reviews, and not just because they're fun as hell to read, or because so far he has dug all my books, but he's a damned good reviewer who gets at the heart of the matter with his reviews. He's one of the reviewers out there I trust to give me an honest, insightful review.

Jen Forbus over at Jen's Book Thoughts kindly let me guest blog today about Julius Katz Mysteries, how Julius Katz pays a generous tip of the cap to Nero Wolfe, why readers like Julius but love Archie. I've already gotten email from Archie about the last part, and how he's going to use that last part to get under Julius's skin later today.

So the big question, would Julius like Outsourced? Archie gave me the answer to that his email, letting me know that Julius read the book through, and let a slight smile grace his lips before nodding his approval at the end.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Poisoned Pen on Outsourced

Patrick Milliken reviews Outsourced for Poisoned Pen's Newsletter, saying "I've been crazy about Dave Zeltserman's books since the beginning; Fast Lane was an early Hardboiled Pick. His trilogy of Small Crimes, Pariah, and Killer should be indispensable to the reading list of any follower of modern noir fiction. This latest book simply kicks ass and is one of the most fun and twisted reads I've had in ages. His protagonist is a middle-aged software engineer who has been out of work for over a year as work is outsourced. Slowly going blind from a rare eye disease, he faces a dim (no pun intended) future in his field. But you see, Dan has a plan: he helped design the security system for a bank (the same bank which outsourced the coding work to India), and with the help of a rag tag assortment of fellow out-of-work IT guys he plans the perfect heist. Naturally, it all goes horribly wrong very quickly..."

I'm going to be at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale on Feb. 15th, so why not call them now and preorder a signed copy? And while you're at it, why not also order the newly released paperback version of Roger Smith's Wake Up Dead? Or Paul Tremblay's terrific Next Stop Till Wonderland? Or Nic Pizzolatto's Edgar nominated and must-read crime thriller debut, Galveston? Or if not from Poisoned Pen, how about another terrific indie bookstore, like Brookline Booksmith (where I'll be 2/2) or Back Page Books (3/24)? Or Bookem Bookstore in Pasadena (2/19)? Or Kingdom Books in Vermont (who have probably all my books autographed and have been one of my biggest supporters--and I'll be there sometime this Spring)? If there was ever a book that screamed that it needs to be bought at an indie bookstore, it's Outsourced with it's theme of middle-class lives being destroyed by large corporations and their bottom-line policies.